Race Plane Crashes at Annual Reno Air Races

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Jimmy Leeward was killed today when his plane "Galloping Ghost", a modified P-51, crashed during a heat race. Many injuries but no deaths confirmed as of yet aside from the pilot (Update: 3 dead, 56 injured). The plane was probably going 450 mph as it turned on to the front straightaway where the crowds and grandstands are.

From what video I've seen and eye-witness reports I've read, apparently the trim tab on the elevator (which controls how the plane goes up or down) came off and Jimmy Leeward had to fight for control. The plane went upside down over the grand stands and what will probably be remembered as either a miracle or an incredible act of self sacrifice, Jimmy was able to direct his stricken aircraft away from the stands and crash in front of them thus preventing what could have been an even bigger disaster.

The first video is of lesser quality.

[youtube]zusClmg4IQg[/youtube]

Crash is at 3:20
[youtube]qs98xkTIBQU[/youtube]

The plane that crashed was "Galloping Ghost", one of my personal favorites. You will hear reports that the pilot was too old to be doing this sort of thing (74) but Jimmy Leeward has been a pilot and racing for quite a long time.:





Needless to say the races have been canceled for this year and the future of air racing looks to be in doubt. Prayers to those who were killed and all their families.

:(
 
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waltky

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Air safety questionable at Reno air show...
:eusa_eh:
Reno air races had history of safety issues, troubles
September 16, 2011 | Reno's National Championship Air Races, where a pilot crashed into the stands Friday afternoon, have been the subject of safety concerns in the past.
The Associated Press reported that four pilots were killed in 2007 and 2008, and local officials were at one point so concerned about safety that they considered banning student field trips. The Reno Gazette-Journal said that before Friday, 19 people had been killed at the races in their 48-year history.

Asked about the safety of the event Friday evening, spokesman Mike Draper said: "I can tell you we work year-round on safety. At this time, we've thought through every emergency protocol. Without knowing the cause of the accident, I can't tell you if there is anything else we could have done."

The event, which is held north of Reno's commercial airport, is like a cross between a race in the sky and an air show. The races themselves feature three types of planes, which race around pylons in the air like runners on a track.

The event was created in the 1960s to draw tourists during the slow month of September, and has grown into a huge event that draws some 200,000 flying enthusiasts and local dignitaries. The event was estimated by the Northern Nevada Business Weekly to generate nearly $70 million for a state that has been walloped by the bad economy.

Source
 
OP
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I wonder why the plane didn't explode!
These race planes don't carry a full tank of gas when racing, just enough to do the required laps and land, that keeps them as light as possible. But still, people on the ground said there was gas everywhere but it didn't ignite, another miracle.
 

zzzz

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Latest news is that 8 spectators were killed and more hospitalized. They are saying it looked like the pilot may have averted an even bigger carnage by changing course slightly. If not the death toll may have been in the hundreds.
 

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Another air show crash in W.Va....
:eek:
Post-WWII plane pilot dies in W.Va. air show crash
Sep 17,`11 - The pilot of a post-World War II plane died Saturday after crashing into a runway and bursting into flames, the second deadly air show crash in 24 hours.
The West Virginia Air National Guard said that no spectators were injured and that the crash site was far away from anyone at the show. Still, air show officials posted a notice on their website encouraging those who witnessed the crash to seek support if they felt viewing it had been traumatic. he crash occurred a day after a stunt pilot crashed at a Nevada air show Friday, killing nine. "We were fortunate that the safety measures put in place by the Federal Aviation Administration ensured the safety of those on the ground," Maj. Gen. James Hoyer, adjutant general of the West Virginia National Guard, said in a statement. "Right now our thoughts and prayers are with the family members of the deceased."

Officials have not released the pilot's name. The fixed-wing, single-engine T-28 plane is registered to John Mangan of Concord, N.C., and was built in 1958, according to a Federal Aviation Administration registry. The Journal of Martinsburg ( Plane crashes at airshow; pilot killed - journal-news.net | News, sports, jobs, community information for Martinsburg - The Journal ) reports the aircraft lost control during a six-plane stunt formation and then crashed on a runway near hangers at the airfield, causing thousands at the show to cry, hug and pray afterward. The plane was part of the T-28 Warbird Aerobatic Formation Demonstration Team, which performs at air shows around the country.

The team is known as the Trojan Horsemen and its website says Jack "Flash" Mangan is part of the alternate wing. His biography on the site says he is a former Air Force fighter pilot who won three Meritorious Service Medals and Tactical Air Command's Instructor Pilot of the Year. A message left at Mangan's North Carolina home was not immediately returned on Saturday. According to The Boeing Co.'s website, the North American T-28 Trojan was a basic trainer that was used by the U.S Navy, including for carrier operation. Its first flight was in 1949 and it was designed to transition pilots to jet aircraft.

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22 People Have Been Killed in 48-Year-History of Reno Air Races
September 17, 2011 — Twenty-two people have now been killed in crashes since Reno's National Championship Air Races started in 1964.

Nineteen pilots died in accidents before Friday's crash that killed the pilot of a P-51 Mustang and two spectators — the first time onlookers were killed or seriously injured.

At least two previous accidents involved P-51s. In 1999, a Mustang disintegrated during a race, scattering debris and damaging a house. In 1994, one of the planes crashed next to a runway after engine failure sprayed the windshield with oil.

Organizers softened two of the curves pilots negotiate after crashes into nearby neighborhoods in 1998 and the one in 1999. In 2007 and 2008, four pilots were killed at the races, prompting local school officials to consider barring student field trips to the event.

http://www.cnsnews.com/news/article/22-people-have-been-killed-48-year-history-reno-air-races
 
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uscitizen

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Flying a 60 year old or so plane at hundreds of miles an hour just off the ground.
Just about over top of the spectators...
It is kinda like a beach in FL. The question is not if a hurricane will hit but when.
 
OP
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22 People Have Been Killed in 48-Year-History of Reno Air Races
September 17, 2011 — Twenty-two people have now been killed in crashes since Reno's National Championship Air Races started in 1964.
44 people have been killed in NASCAR in the last 48 years. 12 in Daytona, most of any race venue.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_NASCAR_fatal_accidents

Perhaps NASCAR should be shut down?

Cars racing in circles at 200 mph close to spectators. It's not a matter of if but when someone will be killed.
 
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uscitizen

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22 People Have Been Killed in 48-Year-History of Reno Air Races
September 17, 2011 — Twenty-two people have now been killed in crashes since Reno's National Championship Air Races started in 1964.
44 people have been killed in NASCAR in the last 48 years. 12 in Daytona, most of any race venue.
List of NASCAR fatal accidents - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Perhaps NASCAR should be shut down?

Cars racing in circles at 200 mph close to spectators. It's not a matter of if but when someone will be killed.
True but in all fairness how many NASCAR races are there VS Reno Air races?
That would kind of skew the stats a bit.

And I am not supporting NASCAR either, just pointing out facts.
I really think most all spectator sports are kinda dumb.
 
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OP
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22 People Have Been Killed in 48-Year-History of Reno Air Races
September 17, 2011 — Twenty-two people have now been killed in crashes since Reno's National Championship Air Races started in 1964.
44 people have been killed in NASCAR in the last 48 years. 12 in Daytona, most of any race venue.
List of NASCAR fatal accidents - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Perhaps NASCAR should be shut down?

Cars racing in circles at 200 mph close to spectators. It's not a matter of if but when someone will be killed.
True but in all fairness how many NASCAR races are there VS Reno Air races?
That would kind of skew the stats a bit.

And I am not supporting NASCAR either, just pointing out facts.
I really think most all spectator sports are kinda dumb.
Point taken.
 

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I understand such a device would affect the aircraft's weight and manoeuvrability, but can't they incorporate an ejector seat or other form of escape system into the airframes of these competition aircraft?
 
OP
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I understand such a device would affect the aircraft's weight and manoeuvrability, but can't they incorporate an ejector seat or other form of escape system into the airframes of these competition aircraft?
They have the same "ejection system" that was used in WWII: Parachutes. But of course parachutes need altitude to work properly. Case in point:

[youtube]OqPPCCKAFp8[/youtube]
 

waltky

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Plane altered for speed...
:eusa_eh:
Plane in NV crash had 'radical' changes to compete
Sep 18,`11 - The World War II-era plane that plummeted into an air-race crowd like a missile bore little resemblance to its original self. It was rebuilt for speed, if not for stability.
The 65-year-old "Galloping Ghost" underwent years of massive overhauls that took a full 10 feet off its wingspan. The ailerons - the back edges of the main wings used to control balance - were cut from about 60 inches to 32. Pilot Jimmy Leeward had said the changes made the P-51 Mustang faster and more maneuverable, but in the months before Friday's crash even he wasn't certain exactly how it would perform. "I know it'll do the speed," he said in a podcast uploaded to YouTube in June. "The systems aren't proven yet. We think they're going to be OK."

Investigators don't yet know what caused the plane to pitch sharply into the crowd at the National Championship Air Races in Reno, killing nine people, including Leeward, and injuring dozens. They have focused on the "elevator trim tab" - a piece of the tail that helps the aircraft maintain lift and appeared to break off before the crash. In the highly competitive, bravado-filled world of air racing, pilots go for broke on the ground and in the sky, hitting speeds of 500 mph. Leeward is the 20th pilot to die at the air races since they began 47 years ago, but Friday's crash was the first in which spectators were killed. "Pilots are a special breed of confident, intelligent, driven perfectionists," said Ken Quick, a commercial airline pilot and a crew member for one of the teams that raced Friday. "They know what they do is dangerous and demanding, and they eagerly embrace both."

Leeward's own website alludes to the dangers - and bragging rights. "These guys are always on the edge knowing one wrong move, in one split second, could mean the end," the Leeward Air Ranch Racing Team website says. "NASCAR at 200 mph? Indy at 230 mph? Top Fuel at 300 mph? Mere Childs play. Welcome to the Big League." Leeward had said the plane underwent several years of modifications before Friday's race, including lopping five feet off each wing, but he hadn't revealed many of the specifics. In the podcast, he called some of the changes "extremely radical," compared some to systems on the space shuttle and explained that he had increased the plane's speed capabilities to be more like those of a modern fighter jet. "To control the airplane in the wind, and in different circumstances if anything happens, you need those types of speeds. You need jet speeds," he said.

Leeward was rounding a bend at dizzying speeds Friday when his plane took an oddly upward pitch, narrowly missing the packed grandstand. It then twirled just a few hundred feet off the ground and nose-dived into a section of VIP box seats, blasting out a 3-foot-deep, 8-foot-wide crater in a hail of metal, chairs and body parts. Noah Joraanstad was blown off his feet as he tried to run away. Shrapnel hit his back, and he was covered in aviation fuel that burned his skin as spectators tried to wash it off. From his bed Sunday at Northern Nevada Medical Center, where nine stitches were put in his head, Joraanstad said that when he looked back at the wreck, the plane was just gone. "The biggest pieces I could see, it looked like just someone sprinkled Legos in every direction," said the 25-year-old, a commercial pilot from Alaska.

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As Reno rethinks air races, possible cause of crash is seen
September 18, 2011 - Investigators searching for the cause of Friday's crash at the Reno Air Races are focusing on a critical part that may have failed. Whatever the cause, the future of the popular air races is in question.
Although it will be months before official investigations are completed, one likely cause has emerged from initial data gathered about Friday’s crash at the Reno Air Races. Photos indicate a missing part from the control surface that maneuvers the nose of an aircraft up and down. That’s the “trim tab,” a critical part of the “elevator” on an aircraft’s tail. Witnesses said they saw a part fall from Jimmy Leeward’s P-51 Mustang seconds before it pitched up then straight down into the spectator area, killing nine people and sending more than 50 to local hospitals.

A photo posted by KOLO-TV, the ABC affiliate in Reno, shows the trim tab dangling from the left elevator as the aircraft rolled inverted just before plunging to the ground. Another photo by Tim O’Brien of the Grass Valley Union shows the P-51 upside down with the trim tab missing. “Without the trim tab, the aircraft may have been uncontrollable,” writes Mike Danko on his Aviation Law Monitor blog.

At a press conference Saturday, National Transportation Safety Board spokesman Mark Rosekind said that a component had been recovered. Although the piece has yet to be identified, he said, “We are very clearly going to focus on that." If that was the cause of the accident, then it wouldn’t have been the first time at the Reno Air Races. “There was an incident during the 1998 Reno Air Races in which a trim tab came off a P-51 named Voodoo Chile,” writes Russ Niles, editor-in-chief of AvWeb. “In that incident … the aircraft pitched violently up, causing pilot Bob Hannah to black out under a G load estimated at 10 Gs. He regained consciousness at 9,000 feet and was able to land safely.”

If the broken trim tab was the cause of Friday’s accident, that means it’s likely that the pilot’s age (he was 74) was not a factor. Some analysts and observers have suggested that Leeward (a veteran pilot who’d flown in many air races) was too old to handle the physical demands and high stress of air racing. Aircraft of that class race an 8-mile oval around pylons at about 100 feet off the ground and speeds up to 500 miles per hour, allowing very little time to respond in emergencies.

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waltky

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... "essentially 12-cylinder hand grenades."
:eek:
NTSB to review air race safety procedures after Reno crash
18 Sept.`11 - The pilot of a vintage plane that crashed and killed nine at an air race in Nevada on Friday knew his sport was dangerous, telling an interviewer earlier this year that the souped-up engines handle so much stress that they are "essentially 12-cylinder hand grenades."
Jimmy Leeward's rebuilt World War II fighter plane crashed into a spectator area with such force that investigators say reconstructing the aircraft will be hard because it broke into so many pieces. "We may not have everything to work with," said Howard Plagens, who is leading the investigation for the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB). Crashes and even pilot fatalities are not uncommon at air races, but the deaths of eight spectators and Leeward have brought scrutiny of Federal Aviation Administration oversight.

"We will thoroughly examine FAA's current (safety) procedures, what comprehensive plan was in place for this particular race and whether it was followed or not," NTSB member Mark Rosekind told reporters Sunday. Rosekind said the NTSB could recommend changes to improve air-race safety after its investigation, which will take months. The crash occurred at the National Championship Air Races, an annual event in Reno that features daredevil pilots racing wing-to-wing as low as 100 feet off the ground around a course marked with pylons. Air races are a cousin of air shows that feature stunt pilots and military jets but are far more dangerous.

"These guys have always been pushing the edge of the envelope in terms of driving the airplanes hard, driving engines hard," Massachusetts Institute of Technology aeronautics professor John Hansman said. "The races are like NASCAR, where you're trying to maneuver around the other guy." The NTSB also is investigating a fatal crash Saturday that killed a pilot at an air show in Martinsburg, W.Va. Air races and air shows are regulated by the same FAA branch but face different standards. Before approving air races, the FAA examines the race course and spectator area to make sure that a crash or collision does not endanger spectators, the FAA said in a statement Sunday.

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westwall

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Flying a 60 year old or so plane at hundreds of miles an hour just off the ground.
Just about over top of the spectators...
It is kinda like a beach in FL. The question is not if a hurricane will hit but when.



The race line is 400 yards away from the crowd. The plane may have been 65 years old but it was completely rebuilt. He may have hit a pylon causing the damage, but we still don't know.
 

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